'Men hated me,' says Jamie Oliver on rise to fame

Laura Hannam
Reporter
jamie oliver

Television chef and restauranteur Jamie Oliver, 43, says men across Britain hated him when he first started appearing on TV.

Oliver first rose to fame back in 1999 when he starred in BBC Two series The Naked Chef. Speaking to Press Association, Oliver says he initially had no idea of the cultural and political magnitude of his show, “I didn’t realise it was political at the time, but 20 years ago women, en masse, were going to work…

“Women and men, husbands, boyfriends were coming home from work, they’d sit down at six o’clock and go, ‘ahh, f***ing tired’, and men across Britain would look at their wives would go, ‘what’s for dinner?’

Photo by Ross Hodgson/REX/Shutterstock (371178j) Jamie Oliver in 2001

“And they weren’t having it. And rightfully so. They had both done a 12-hour day, their feet both hurt, they’re both contributing to the rent – so I didn’t know it because I was too young and stupid, and I was just enjoying life way too much – but women around Britain made me succeed.”

Oliver added: “When The Naked Chef was on telly, I look about one year old – I’m almost like a foetus, you know? So for the girls around the country, old and young, when their husbands said ‘what’s for dinner?’, they said, ‘see that boy, he’s 23 years old, if he could cook for his missus, and all his friends, look what he’s cooking, it’s simple, look he’s getting his hand in there’ and they went ‘go on.”

He went on to say this led to resentment from some of his male viewership, and he even blames getting ‘punched’ on the alleged backlash.

Photo by TONY KYRIACOU/REX/Shutterstock Jamie Oliver in 1999

“If you look back in the papers and study it, men hated me for two years, and I got chased and punched a few times, I had loads of abuse. Men f***ing hated me.”

However, Oliver concluded that his male fanbase has grown today and now it’s “50/50” male to female ratio.

“When men stopped thinking of me as the competition, as a threat, when they realised if I cooked for my wife, for my girlfriend, she loves me a little bit more, then in turn – after about two-and-a-half years – men would stop wanting to punch me.

“I would do a demonstration in front of two-and-a-half thousand people and, over the years, now it’s 50/50.”


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